A proper diet is a must for six pack abs.
When I decided to get six pack abs, I had no idea about how a six pack diet should be.
I did a lot of research, tried and failed with many diets until I finally figured everything out and got my six pack abs.
By the time you finish reading this article, you will know exactly what kind of diet works for getting six pack abs.
A Calorie Deficit is a Must for Losing Fat
For six pack abs, you need to be around 8-10% body fat. Since you probably have a body fat percentage over 8-10%, like the majority of men, you need to lose fat.
Losing fat is a matter of calorie deficit. You need to eat less calories than you burn.
Since you will also be training your muscles, you need to do two things at once if you want to build six pack abs:
It’s possible to burn fat and build muscle at the same time-if you eat and train right.
How Much Calorie Deficit Do You Need for Six Pack Abs?
How much of a caloric deficit you can create will depend on your starting body fat percentage.
First, you need to know your daily calorie expenditure. Use the calorie calculator here to find an estimate of your daily calorie expenditure.
Next, measure your body fat percentage with a skinfold caliper. Alternatively, a bioelectrical impedance body composition monitor can give you a good idea about your body fat percentage too. All you need is a close estimate. Don’t obsess about 100% accuracy.
After you calculate your daily calorie expenditure and body fat percentage, use this table to determine the daily caloric deficit you need to create for six pack abs:
Since you will be training hard, it’s never a good idea to go below a daily average of 700 calorie deficit. Because you will feel too exhausted to train.
As you lose fat, recalculate your daily calorie expenditure and body fat percentage, then adjust your calorie intake according to where your body fat percentage belongs on Table 1 above.
When you reach 10-12% body fat, your abs should be visible.
If your body fat percentage is above 30%, you need to lose weight before considering 6 pack abs.
Your Macros: How Much Protein, Fat and Carbs You Should Eat
How Much Protein Should You Eat?
First, you need to eat your animal protein. Eating enough animal protein will accomplish a few things:
- When you are building six pack abs you need to keep your existing muscles and add muscle mass to your body. Protein is the building block of muscles. So, you need to eat protein.
- Being in a calorie deficit when you are training hard will be tough. Trust me, you will feel hungry. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. Eating more protein will make you feel less hungry.
- Protein has thermic effect. Your metabolism will slow down when you are in a calorie deficit. Protein will help increase your metabolic rate.
To build muscle, you need to eat at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Since you will also be in a caloric deficit, you need to eat even more protein than that.
Eat 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of your body weight every day.
How Much Fat Should You Eat?
Fat is an essential nutrient. You need to eat fat to keep your hormones in check.
Fat being essential doesn’t mean you need to be eating too much though.
Eat 0.2-0.3 grams of fat per pound of your body weight every day.
How Much Carbs Should You Eat?
Carbohydrates (AKA Carbs) are not essential for survival but you need to eat them when you are training hard.
Carbs will provide quick energy for your training sessions.
On non-training days, you still need to eat carbs to avoid ketosis. Long term effects of ketosis are not understood yet, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
On your training days eat 1-1.2 gram of carbs per pound of your body weight.
Off your training days eat approximately 100 gr of carbs to avoid ketosis.
Eggs, egg whites, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, squid, shrimp, cottage cheese, low fat yogurt and skim milk are all fair game.
I mostly ate eggs, beef, chicken and tuna during my six pack diet. You can choose your favorite animal protein source.
Warning: Understand that different cuts of meat have different fat content. Since you won’t have a generous calorie budget, aim for lean cuts of meat. See the table below to have an idea of how different parts of an animal have different content of fat and calories;
Also, note that egg whites have significantly lower calories than whole eggs. That’s because egg yolks contain fat and egg whites don’t.
Full fat cheese, yogurt and milk are too high in fat content so if you want to consume them, aim for low fat versions.
You will inevitably eat some fat with your animal protein sources.
In addition, you can add some butter, olive oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil or coconut oil to your diet.
You don’t have too much of a fat budget so use it carefully.
It’s too easy to eat too many calories from fat because one gram of fat contains a whopping 9 calories.
I recommend measuring your fat intake meticulously.
I prefer to mix eggs and egg whites to avoid eating too many fat calories. Eggs have their fat content in the yolk so egg whites will not hurt you. 4 egg whites and 1 whole egg can make a fairly tasty omelette.
Supplementing with fish oil is a good idea because of the omega-3 content.
Cook your omelette in one table spoon of butter or add one table spoon of olive oil to your salad to add taste to your meals.
Fruits, vegetables, potatoes, rice, pasta, wheat, oats are all good sources of carbs, as long as you don’t exceed your calorie budget.
I find potatoes more filling than pasta, wheat or rice but that’s just me. Choose the carb source of your liking and don’t go over your calorie budget.
Try to mix your carb sources. Potatoes, rice, pasta, wheat, oats contain starch. Fruits contain fructose. Vegetables are fiber rich.
I prefer to eat potatoes, bananas, apples, tomatoes, cucumber, radish and lettuce for my carb requirements.
Vegetables are low in calorie content so it’s a good idea to eat lots of vegetables. Some vegetables can have too many calories so be sure to include those calories in your calorie budget.
Eating vegetables will help you suppress your hunger with relatively lower calories. They will also add color and flavor to your meals. There’s a lot to love about vegetables, especially when you are on a strict six pack diet. Use them to your advantage.
Sample Daily Meal Plan
Here’s my typical daily six pack diet:
Breakfast: 5 egg whites (85 calories), 1 whole egg (78 calories), 3 small size tomatoes (33 calories), 1 medium sized banana (90 calories)
Lunch: 300 grams of chicken breast (495 calories), 300 grams of potatoes (231 calories), vegetable salad with tomatoes, cucumber and radish (80 calories), 1 medium sized apple (84 calories)
Dinner: 300 grams of 5% fat ground beef (408 calories), 200 grams of potatoes (154 calories), lettuce salad with olive oil (155 calories), 1 medium sized banana (90 calories)
Total: 1983 calories (200 gr protein, 47 gr fat, 187 gr carbs)
Note that I was around 15% of body fat when I ate this much of calories. Adjust your macros and calories according to the Table 1 above.
My Tips About Six Pack Diet
Being in a calorie deficit while you are training hard is difficult.
Here are my tips to make it easier:
Tip #2) Coffee suppresses hunger and has zero calories. Drink some black coffee when you feel hungry.
Tip #3) Use condiments to add color and flavor to your meals. Sprinkling some black pepper, chili, cumin etc. on your meals make them tastier. You can also add low calorie sauces such as salsa to your dishes.
Tip #4) Remember that this is temporary. Cravings are your body’s tricks to make you eat more calories. Maintaining six pack abs is easy once you get them. The rewards of getting six pack abs are enormous. When the going gets tough, imagine the rewards you will receive. Visualize yourself looking in the mirror with your six pack abs looking back at you.
Tip #5) Read my simple tips on reducing your calorie intake.
Tip #6) Get the tools to track your progress.
Six Pack Diet Questions & Answers
Isn’t training enough? Why should I diet?
You can’t out-train your diet. Training doesn’t burn as many calories as you think.
How many meals a day should I eat?
Hitting your macro (protein, fat and carbohydrates) goals and total number of calories you eat is all that matters. I eat 2-3 meals a day.
Will it hurt me if I eat at night?
No. When I’m on diet, I prefer eating close to my sleep time because I can’t sleep when I’m hungry. The calories you eat is what matters. Not the time of the day you eat them.
Is protein shake OK for my abs?
Yes. Just check the carb and fat content of your protein powder and count those calories too.
What about cheat meals?
I believe in getting things done as fast as possible so I recommend you to eat as little cheat meals as possible. You can eat cheat meals here and there but don’t forget to count your calories. Don’t go overboard with your cheat meals. The less calories you eat, the better.
Do I need to eat the vegetables raw or cooked?
Whichever you like.
Can I have canned tuna?
Can I eat or drink eggs in every meal?
Can I use salt?
Can I eat nuts?
I don’t recommend nuts for a six pack diet because they are too high in calories. If you must eat them, don’t exceed your daily calorie budget.
I have stubborn belly fat. I am unable to lose that last bit of fat on my lower abs. Can you recommend a diet for that?
I successfully used Lyle McDonald’s Rapid Fat Loss handbook a few times for getting rid of my stubborn fat. You can give it a shot.
I have flat stomach but no abs. Is this normal?
Yes. Your ab muscles are still muscles so you need to train and build them too.
Do I need supplements?
I take vitamin D, fish oil and multivitamins regularly. I can’t say they are necessary for six pack abs but I use them for better nutrition regardless of I’m dieting or not.
I am below 10% of body weight, what should I do?
You need to eat maintenance calories.
How many months do I need to get 6 pack abs?
Here’s my article that answers your question.
Can you guide me with the exercises for six pack abs?
Do I need cardio?
No. Do 150 burpees or 200 push-ups and come back to ask me if you still need cardio.
I was a couch potato. I trained hard, dieted and built my six pack abs.
If you follow the plan laid out on this website, there’s no reason you can’t do it too.
Believe in yourself and do it. It will be well worth your efforts.
P.S. I highly recommend Tom Venuto’s Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle diet because building six pack abs is a process of building muscle and burning fat. Tom Venuto’s program masterfully teaches you how to diet when you are training for strength.